Few cities match the history and grandeur of St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russian imperial capital is a surprising cultural hub with splendid architectural gems and Venice-like canals which evoke a romantic atmosphere. St. Petersburg’s nightlife, a sprawling collection of world-renown art collections, and fine dining allows for a memorable visit.
Suffice to say, St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful European cities and offers an unforgettable experience. The breathtaking and spectacular parks, churches, suburban palaces, and a myriad of canals which cut their way through the city reflect the extraordinary and extravagant tastes of the remarkable Russia rulers of the past. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of spectacular churches in this area of Russia. Sure, St. Petersburg is probably more European in flavor than Russian, but it is still part of Russia and I ignorantly didn’t associate that much religion with the Russian people.
The Hermitage Museum, with over 3 million items in its collection, is one of the premier art museums in the world. This “Winter Palace” has attractions which display a splendid collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. While the exterior of the baroque-style Hermitage is painted with a curious green color, the interior décor and furnishings may remind you of a slightly less-opulent Versailles. If you are an art or history lover you will be impressed with this great museum which is clearly one of the top 5-10 museums in the world.
The Summer Palace of Peter the Great
An interesting contrast to the Hermitage Winter Place is the Summer Palace of Peter the Great; with its backdrop, the shores of the Baltic Sea. The wonderful appeal of the Summer Palace is its copious gardens, lavish fountain, and sculpted exterior grounds. I have always wondered what would result if you combined the exterior of the Summer Palace with the Baroque interior opulence of the Winter Palace…maybe a more spectacular Versailles? Today the palace has become a division of the Russian Museum. It showcases the original interiors, many personal belongings of Peter and Catherine, unique devices of the 18th century, rare paintings, and much more. However, much of the interior is being refurbished and is rather uneventful.
St. Petersburg Russia: A Cultural Mecca
The downtown of St. Petersburg, particularly along its main street, Nevsky Prospect, boasts of religious sites such as monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. Interestingly, these Christian churches have a rich Islamic heritage and architectural feel; like the famous Church of the Savior on Blood. Most of these churches have magnificent architecture such as the Baroque Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral with its soaring golden spire. Walking along Nevsky Prospect, the Champs-Élysées of St. Petersburg, is one of the more memorial European experiences.
The all–seasons city has activities planned the entire year-round. The white summer nights create memorable experiences and are legendary. May welcomes the greening of parks and gardens with flowering trees. Mid-June is reserved for performing arts, and the entire city seems to party all night. Even when the snow covers the grounds, and the clouds appear gloomy, St. Petersburg’s culture and activities still dazzle. There is no uncertainty that St. Petersburg Russia is a cultural mecca and a city with a traditional European spirit.